My first serious work in photography started several years ago while completing my senior thesis. These works involve the use of older processes while incorporating modern materials. After experimenting with several, I concentrated on Vandyke brown printing (a turn of the century process involving an emulsion of iron salts, silver nitrate and tartaric acid. I coated this on watercolor paper finding that it was more suited to the process than printing or etching paper; even so I had to resize the paper using formaldehyde. Next, I manipulated my exposures in the camera and in development, to produce a negative that emphasized the grain of the film. I then created a halftone by controlling the development of Kodalith to produce a continuous tonal negative. These were then exposed to the sun or artificial light producing images that resembled a cross between an etching and a watercolor but still having the qualities of a photograph.
My next series involved a direct resolution process, which was produced by placing the photographic paper in a view camera and exposing it directly in the camera. Here the idea of reverse order came into play (all the blacks are white and vice versa. This idea of opposition was echoed in the images that shifted between macrocosm and microcosm. (See Art Papers, Atlanta, Georgia, reviews by Dr. Eric Zafran, June 1980, July 1981; Photo Metro, San Francisco, California, review by John Bloom, April, 1983; and Artweek, San Francisco, California, "Seeing Microcosms" by Marna C. Graham, April, 1983) At Articles and Reviews.
I was concerned with the idea of random markings on manmade surfaces and color's interaction with tonal monochromatic surfaces. In most cases, these were close-up segments of one dominant color and when two or more similar colors were visualized, the tonalities of the grays were very different. Due to this process they were abstract in nature and had a significant painterly quality about them. This began my work in abstraction, which I still continue to explore.
Because of this shift in the light spectrum of gray versus color, I became interested in color - adding water-and-oil based pigments to the image and exploring the idea of markings on markings.
This led to the idea of creating color paper negatives. This process proved to be more complicated and took more research (the technical office at Kodak stated that it couldn't be done). Because of the complexity of the process I could no longer make exposures in the environment as they were between 40 minutes to an hour making it impossible to control the stability of the camera. Therefore, I had to bring the camera into the studio and create my own surfaces by painting on glass and then making an exposure of the glass, exhibiting the color paper negative, not the glass. The results were that all the colors were opposite - i.e. all the blues were yellow and vice versa, occurring in the primary, secondary and tertiary layers, giving me first hand insight on how the two color spectrums operated.
I worked with these three processes for the next six years and I also started to work in oil and mixed media. In 1986, I went to France with my camera, but the weather proved to be too harsh to make the long exposures that were required; consequently, I produced my first full series of paintings. These were mixed media involving charcoal, oil pastel, dry pastel, gouache, and watercolor. This series was geometric in nature and incorporated multi-layers, color, and texture to balance and formulate the image. It has been described as "hard edged and raw." See ART Papers, Atlanta, Georgia, review by Katherine Duncan, March-April 1991, or The Orlando Sentinel, Orlando, Florida, review by Chuck Twardy, March 21, 1990. At Articles and Reviews.
Returning from France in 1987, I continued to work in this vein and in 1988 I moved to Florida, where the light greatly influenced my work. In 1991 I returned to Europe with plans to settle in Paris. However, after a few months in France, a friend invited me to Rome, where the light seduced me.
Shortly after arriving in Italy I produced a series of monotypes. I first painted on a sheet of glass, and then laid wet watercolor paper on top of the glass transferring the paint onto the paper, later painting back into the transferred image. These monotypes modified the hardedges of my work softening them and making them more organic and fluid. Because I was in small studios during this period these works were generally small and had a certain delicacy about them. I produced this series on several different types of watercolor paper giving each painting a different feel and using a variety of papers, and it is still one of the devices that I employ today.
In 1993 I began experimenting with Papyrus paper. I found it very difficult to work with using the monotype technique as it could not be easily moved when wet, but if I allowed it to remain on the glass very interesting effects developed. This discovery led me away from monotypes into the wet on wet techniques.
This process allowed me to work larger and could be manipulated by a number of factors and conditions - types of paper and pigment, amount of liquid, consistency of pigment, etc. These variables led me to make my own paints manipulating the viscosity of the paint and the amount of pigment in the paint. Using dry pigments, this also allows me to produce large amounts of paint, incorporating old and new recipes for both gouache and watercolor to create different behavioral patterns. Today, my work is both small and large (80 cm x 120 cm.) and as a result of using the dry pigments in combination with commercial paints, I find that my colors are more vibrant while still retaining the softness due to the wet on wet technique.